Aleta: I’m grateful to have the chance to do the work that helps change the lives of children
What does a typical day at work look like?
The “typical day” doesn’t really exist for me, given that my role requires me to pivot pretty frequently throughout any given day! I support Children’s HeartLink’s entire leadership team to some degree, but I am most integrally involved with providing direct administrative support to our president Jackie Boucher so that she is enabled to advocate for children with congenital heart disease. Most days I find myself wishing for more time.
Tell us a little about your background and why it led you to Children’s HeartLink.
I earned my bachelor’s degree in Early Modern History and Spanish at the University of Minnesota. Then I defended my master’s thesis in the Transatlantic History of Spain, focused in part on the colonial history of smallpox in Peru. I have had a lifelong interest in the field of medicine. This abiding interest in medicine, coupled with the desire to contribute in a lasting way to the lives of others, motivated me to join Children’s HeartLink when the opportunity arose. I’m grateful to have the chance to be part of the great work we do to change the lives of children with heart disease.
What motivates you?
I am motivated by a passion for excellence in all that I do, but I struggle with perfectionism, so it’s a constant battle to maintain a balance.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? The most challenging?
The most rewarding part of my job is the knowledge that the work that I do contributes, eventually, to ensuring that desperately sick children around the world have the opportunity to live, and the hope that their parents are relieved of the deep anxiety they must feel on behalf of their children. The most challenging part of my job can be reaching out and connecting with others when my introverted self feels shy.
What are the most important traits for your job?
A spirit of service to others is probably the most important trait that I need to call upon, along with excellence, kindness, compassion and care for others.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to learn how to do new types of needlework. I am an avid knitter, and I like to do counted cross-stitch. I also paint and sketch. I like to watch old movies, especially Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musicals, along with comedies by the Marx Brothers. I love to travel to new places, learn new languages and read first-hand historical accounts. I “geek out” on learning the etymology of words. Listening to music from a wide variety of genres and time periods is a great pleasure, and I enjoy attending annual performances by the Twin Cities’ Gilbert and Sullivan Very Light Opera Company when I’m able.
What’s something people are surprised to learn about you?
I’m an introvert and don’t have any natural aptitude for dance, but I would love to learn how to do flamenco and ballet. Although I tend to come across as a serious person most of the time, I also love to laugh, greatly enjoy word-play, and have a quirky sense of humor.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to the best man ever. Jim and I have been happily married for 39 years. Family matters deeply to us, and we intentionally cultivate close family ties with our kids because we want our four kids to be an addition to the world rather than a subtraction. They have each grown up to be intelligent, unique and loving individuals who are diligent in their work, and we are enormously proud of them! All are happily married to spouses whom we love as our own, and three of the four kids live within blocks of each other and within a 10-minute drive of our home. We have four grandchildren under the age of 5, with whom we delight to spend time and get to see frequently. We are now “empty nesters” but happily share our home with our two cats Oreo and Rajah.
Aleta has a deep and abiding interest in other cultures. She earned her master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in Spanish Transatlantic History, focusing her thesis on the history of smallpox in Peru as part of her emphasis on the Early Modern History of Medicine. She has served as an organizational liaison to the Consulate of Mexico, and came to Children’s HeartLink most recently from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities.
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